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VINE VOICEon May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
To be honest, when I first started reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" I expected a haunting thriller, full of horror and danger. That is not what this book is. Instead, this book is fantasy/adventure combined with a very unique style of photography, which made the book better than I ever thought it would be.

Story - Jacob Portman desires an adventurous life, much like the life his grandfather describes to him in various stories. However, when Jacob realizes that he can never have an adventurous life, he just tries to be normal and fit in. He's not popular or extremely smart, and there doesn't seem to be anything unusual about him at all; but when his grandfather dies and leaves Jacob a cryptic message, Jacob is sent on a hunt to find his grandfather's past and ends up traveling all the way to Wales. Once there, Jacob discovers much more than he ever could have imagined about his grandfather and is thrown into the midst of a very peculiar situation.

Writing Style - If I had to compare Ransom Riggs to any other author, I would have to compare him to Lemony Snicket. In fact, this entire book reminded me very much of Mr. Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books. Don't get me wrong, Riggs did not steal Lemony Snicket's writing style at all, but Riggs just simply reminded me of him, which is a positive since I pretty much love anything that Snicket touches.
Something else that I feel Riggs did superbly was explain the detail of everything in the story. Even without the occasional photographs of people and things in the story, I was able to visualize the locations and details because of the fantastic descriptions.
Now, as for the photographs, they added a whole new dimension to the story. They didn't turn the novel into a picture book or something else that we normally associate with children; rather, they added a new level of immersion to the story, with the reader being almost able to see exactly what Jacob is seeing as he looks at the many photographs scattered throughout.
The book is truly addicting, but it isn't perfect; there are a few kinks that I feel needed to be worked out. The major kink being the fact that the attitude of some of the characters just doesn't seem to match the story! The abundance of cursing and crude humor just doesn't make sense with some of the characters or the plot of the story. Also, there were a few things that weren't developed as much as possible and could have been explained more and built upon.

Warnings - Language, Mild Violence, Mild Peril

Overall - In all fairness, my last complaint was very nitpicky and small, and I don't want to give anyone the impression that this is not a good book. For a first novel, it is fantastic! There are a few things to improve on, but I think Mr. Riggs is off to an amazing start! I immensely look forward to his second novel, which I assume is in the works based on the cliffhanger at this end of the story. I would say that, most likely, teens will enjoy the book more than adults, but it really does have a very interesting plot that many will love.
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on June 25, 2011
The story is amazing. However, the book is peppered with hand written letters and amazing vintage photographs which are hard to see and impossible to read on the Kindle. Purchasing this book in hard copy is the only way to go.
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VINE VOICEon May 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I first heard of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs with its intriguing title, cover, and premise, I was immediately smitten. I love odd books and this one seemed unique in every way. I'm very glad to report that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was so enthralling that it overcame jet lag from a 10-hour plane ride - I just had to read to the end!

Jacob has always been in awe of his colorful Grandpa Portman, who told him stories about his fabled childhood in a faraway island where he lived in order to hide from monsters. Jacob first believed in his grandfather's extraordinary tales of his friends, strange orphans with magical abilities, especially since his grandfather had photographs as proof of their existence. However, as he grew older, Jacob began to doubt that the stories, the orphans, or the photographs, were real...until his grandfather's cryptic last words and a letter from a mysterious Miss Peregrine spur Jacob to search for his grandfather's childhood home, which turns out to be in a small island off the coast of Wales. What he finds there is completely unexpected.

"The trees parted like a curtain and suddenly there it was, cloaked in fog, looming atop a weed-choked hill. The house. I understood at once why the boys had refused to come.

"My grandfather had described it a hundred times, but in his stories, the house was always a bright, happy place---big and rambling, yes but full of light and laughter. What stood before me now was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself, staring down from its perch with vacant hunger. Trees burst forth from broken windows and skins of scabrous vine gnawed at the walls like antibodies attacking a virus--as if nature itself had waged war against it---but the house seemed unkillable, resolutely upright despite the wrongness of its angles and the jagged teeth of sky visible through sections of collapsed roof.


"I gathered up what scrawny courage I had and waded through waist-high weeds to the porch, all broken tile and rotting wood, to peek through a cracked window. All I could make out through the smeared glass were the outlines of furniture, so I knocked on the door and stood back to wait in eerie silence, tracing the shape of Miss Peregrine's letter in my pocket. I'd taken it along in case I needed to prove who I was, but as a minute ticked by, then two, it seemed less and less likely that I would need it."

What happened to the inhabitants of this devastated ruin and how was Grandfather Portman involved? Jacob's investigation turns from creepy to heart-palpitatingly scary, then poignant. Where the story went truly surprised me, not only delivering on its promise of eccentric and dark but inventing a rich and magical other world of "peculiar" children and monsters that's convincingly woven with real history.

The writing is so descriptive and evocative that I now question if the vintage photographs interspersed throughout the narratives are even necessary to the enjoyment of the story. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was apparently inspired by these weird photographs the author found, each with something so off-kilter about them that they can inspire multiple fantastic stories on their own. While I loved the photographs, they were a bonus rather than essential.
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on July 13, 2011
I wanted to like this book. The premise is really charming, and the boy Jacob is such a lovely character. I also loved the idea of a story based upon found photography. I read this book on my Kindle, and I want to say up front that I adore my Kindle. BUT, I'm not sure that this book works in the electronic format. I could not see any detail in the photographs, which was so disappointing. Also, without giving away anything, there is a note written at the very end by a key character, which I could not read as it was placed in the book as a photograph. So, that being said, my guess is that I missed a great deal from this book that might have helped me enjoy it more. I also would like to say that I found the 1st half of the book far more enjoyable than the 2nd half. Mr. Riggs seems to lose some focus toward the end, arbitrarily wrapping things up as though he's run out of things to say. Lastly, THE ENDING, which is the reason for my two star rating. I found the end so unsatisfying that I didn't even know I was at the end! I turned the page expecting more book! I realize that the current economics of the publishing world dictates that virtually every story is supposed to be one of a series of books. However, this book was such a blatant set up, and so incomplete on it's face, that I found myself a little angry at Mr. Riggs. I would love to read a book that is a complete story in itself, and not the potential for a movie deal or a sequel. Just saying....
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on June 19, 2011
I have had it with books that spend 300+ pages to set up the sequel while not redeeming the first edition. While the language used here was often creative, the story moved along at the rate of arctic drift. Note to Mr. Riggs: Write twice the story using the same number of words and I will buy your next book. As it is, this book was simply a long hike for a non-existent payoff.
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on July 28, 2013
I loved the cover of this book, and it all started out well. Alas, about half-way through the story lost steam. The main character is not very interesting, and actually, none of the characters are very developed. There are pages and pages of action scenes which begin to feel tedious rather than thrilling. There are big holes in the logic including, how id letters go back and forth from inside the time loop to Abe in the outside world. There is way to much exposition,as well. Also, it is kind of a bummer that the whole thing is just a set up for a series and has no real conclusion on its own. It feels very, very gimmicky.
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VINE VOICEon May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN offers a unique premise in that it combines a story with vintage photographs to present a tale that is both whimsical and chilling. I loved the idea of this book. 16-year-old Jacob grows up listening to the tales of his grandfather's childhood in an orphanage filled with children with unusual powers and evil monsters lurking in the shadows. As Jacob grows older, he begins to doubt the veracity of his grandfather's tales believing that they grew out of his grandfather's struggles under the Nazi regime. When Jacob's grandfather is killed under mysterious circumstances, Jacob decides to investigate his grandfather's past by going to the orphanage where he grew up. Once there, Jacob discovers that the people...and monsters...might be real after all.

The vintage images in this book are haunting and set the tone perfectly. The mystery is creative if a bit inscrutable. I loved Jacob's search for the truth but the explanations were fuzzy and the bad guys a bit over the top. I was a little disappointed that the book wasn't MORE whimsical. It seemed to get a bit too caught up in its structural device without working more on character development. I wish the author had developed the story a bit more. I would have given it a higher rating. Still, it has a lot of mystery, action and suspense. I am divided on whether I will continue to reading the series. However, I would still recommend this book to most young adult readers looking for something unusual and different to read. It's worth it for the photos alone.
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on August 15, 2011
The books cover had me very intrigued and I must admit that's what drew me to the book in the first place. It started out great and I was very drawn in with the combination of pictures and story, but towards the middle, it started to fade. The story started to take a on a new track I didn't expect and not in a good way. The story became too fantastical and kind of annoying. Towards the end, I was just reading to get it over with. This is definitely a book to be put on a shelf and never touched again. Sad.
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on June 23, 2011
This book starts out really strong. The action starts immediately, Jacob is witty and likeable, and a chilling mystery is introduced. Ransom Riggs does a great job building suspense. I felt almost felt like I was reading a ghost story at the beginning, with the constant references to the past and the expectation of something extremely scary happening. But my expectations fall flat, and I realized that this book is a little bit all over the place.

The pacing of the book is off. The beginning moves quickly, the end moves quickly, and the middle just laaaaaags. I felt the middle focused more on world-building (although Riggs does portray a very unique world) and introducing characters than actually moving the plot forward, and there could have been a better balance.

I also felt like there were a lot of flat characters. I think Jacob and Emma are the most well-rounded characters, and Emma only appears in half of the book. I think a lot of this might be because this is Riggs' debut novel and he has a LARGE cast of characters. My guess is that the sequel will be much smoother.

As for the photographs, I thought that including them was a really novel idea (no pun intended) and I found them interesting. The constant reference to the photographs, however, got soooooo annoying. Riggs seemed to operate with a formula every time it was time for a photo: Jacob either recalled a photo he had seen earlier and described what the photograph looked like, or someone whipped out a photo album. I felt that calling such blatant attention to the photographs in the narrative got redundant and disrupted the narration.

Overall, lots of interesting ideas, but the presentation needs some work. If the sequel is more polished, I think this will turn into a very compelling series.
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on December 23, 2011
The many good reviews convinced me to read this book and I'm not sorry, but by the end of the book I was frustrated. Unlike some reviewers, I thought the first half of the book was wonderful. Jacob's struggles to make sense of his Grandfather's life, the stories he had been told and how that related to his own life were deeply moving and well told. The descriptions of the island and his first visit to the house were evocative and haunting. Once he discovered the children, though, I thought the story began to break down.

I love a good fantasy but the author has to make me feel that it's true, which Riggs didn't accomplish for me. Even with the photographs, many of the children felt forced as though Riggs was trying to hard to make up a story about the photographs. He boxed himself in with his own story too. It was obvious from somewhere just past the middle of the book that there was not going to be a good ending. Stories with bad endings have a place but in the later parts of the book, Riggs rushed through the adventures of the characters with not enough attention to the emotional side of the story. He didn't give you a place to cry. An ending that terrible should have made you cry.

I had bought this book as a gift, but have changed my mind. I didn't dislike it enough to feel that I wasted my time. In fact I enjoyed it many ways and will remember it, but it's not good enough for the implied recommendation of giving as a gift.
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